What is the best way to experience new cities while pet sitting?

My family of 5 are new to house sitting and seems like a win/win to take care of adorable pets while having lodging. We have not secured a sit for our family of 5 yet but want to know, what is the best way to tour a new city while taking care of all of the responsibilities of pet sitting? We work 9-5 during the week days and kids do home school so we should be inside the house most of the time. But what about weekends? Do sitters take the dogs on hikes/beach/ etc with them? Or go out for 3-4 hours at a time on the weekend? My husband asked me last night, “if we’re watching people’s pets, how will we see the city?”

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As a sitter, I usually ask how long the pet(s) can be left alone. Most homeowners are quite good about mentioning that in their listing. Our primary responsibility is always to take care of the pets but most pets can be left alone for 3-4 hours and there’s a window of opportunity to go sightseeing, go out for a meal, etc. We’ve done a few international sits where we’ve brought the pets in the car with us and gone off for the day and also where we’ve left them alone for a few hours to do our own sightseeing. I think this is something best discussed with a potential homeowner that you may decide to sit for.

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Definitely read the listing carefuly for responsibilities.

If it seems overall a good fit but one or two things give you a “hmmmm…could we tweak that a bit.” Apply but discuss candidly with the HO to see if there could be flexibility.

My wife and I are looking for a sit now and I am first going straight to the "responsibilities " section as we want something that for this trip that will allow for mutual flexibility.

I don’t want to fall in love with the photos then read in the responsibilities that for us this time around…a listing wouldn’t be a good fit, so I’m trying to efficiently scan listings.

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Hi @IHeartAnimals. I love that you’re exposing your kids to the world of pet sitting. What a great experience that is for them.

You’ve raised a really good question. The answer depends on the pet’s and pet parent’s needs. Every situation is different.

  • Some pets can’t be left alone for long. In these cases, we do most of our sightseeing in the days just before or just after the sit. Or we split up, so someone is at home with the pet most of the time.
  • Some dogs can go for long walks and live in an area we want to explore. In these cases we let the dog(s) be our guides by walking us around town.
  • Many cat parents are fine with their kitties being alone all day. Those sits are great for local exploration.

So look closely at the pet sit listing to determine how much time the pets require. Then, to be sure you really have a good understanding of what the pet parents are looking for, ask lots of questions in the pre-decision video call. Then you’ll be able to decide if and how to sightsee while you’re pet sitting, and whether that pet sit is a good fit for your family.

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We also work full-time during the week. We find going out for lunch or dinner occasionally in a new environment to be a treat that sustains us during the week. But realistically, even on weekends, exploration time is limited to around 4 hours at a time. We might split up as well - I like hiking, so I might go for a day-hike while hubby prefers to stay home with the pets.

Cats are easier for sure. We never take dogs with us on sightseeing expeditions, as it causes me quite a lot of stress: the pet in our car that is also our ‘home between sits’; us not knowing the area; not knowing how the pet would respond or how other pets would respond to him; often in foreign languages not knowing if the pet is allowed inside. And of course the dog feeds off my anxiety so it’s a 2-way stream! I might be in the minority here.

Our best sightseeing is done over weekends between housesits, where we stay in an Airbnb and can come and go as we please, without any responsibilities.

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Hi, in response to your query these are the things I do.
I know beforehand what I am going to do in an area.
I had one sit in Skegness, UK across the road from the sea, so I took the dogs down there every morning for a couple of hours, and then left them at home while I went for day trips or shopping or just around town. On other occasions where I know I’ll be out for longer periods of time, I look for cat sits. Cats, I can usually leave for the day, but not every day in a row. A few sits I’ve done recently the cats took a long time to warm to me, so I had all the time I needed.
I do a few things others have said here too, I talk to the HO about the pets’ habits, if the HO work, then the pets can be left alone with no problem. I don’t usually take dogs with me on expeditions, but if I know I’ll be out all day, then I’ll take the dog for a very long walk in the morning.
Ask the HO questions, be honest, that you’ll want to site see and ask how they think their pet will react if left alone for long periods of time. It is a two way street, we are there to look after their home and pets, but we are also visitors to an area we would like to see.

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Hi @IHeartAnimals,

As others have said, every sit is different and it depends on the individual pets.

We did one sit in Bristol UK where we walked around the city, including the centre with the dog, or drove to different areas and parks to explore. We did plan to visit an exhibition at one of the museums and the dog stayed at home for a couple of hours while we did that.

We did a sit in London where we explored the local area with the dog, but managed to go into the centre for a few hours one evening.

We did a rural sit in East Lothian where the dogs could be left long enough for us to drive to Edinburgh and spend 2-3 hours looking around, then drove back, but we only did this once.

For more rural or seaside sits, we usually take the dogs with us to the beach or on walks. Sometimes the only time we leave the house without them is at the end of the sit!

Other pets like cats, or small furries can be left more easily to do a little sightseeing. Chickens or other poultry usually need to be in their house at around sunset, so we need to plan around that.

We tend to enjoy spending time relaxing with the pets and our sightseeing is at a much slower pace than if we were on a conventional holiday. Equally it may be more localised.